Hydro Electric Power is coming to Cromford Mill

James Probert

Hydro Electric Power is coming to Cromford Mill

OakenStone have relished the opportunity over recent months to support the Cromford Mill Hydro Electric Team on their scheme to generate renewable electricity to supply this historical site.

This exciting project uses the mill’s existing water courses to generate free, renewable electricity and heating to buildings on the mill site.  There is a poetic symmetry to this project, using the power of water and gravity to create energy, just as Richard Arkwright did when he built the first water powered cotton mill here in 1771.

Project co-ordinator, Simon Gill first approached us in the feasibility stage of the project and we were happy to assist with many logistical and technical questions on how the project might be realised.

De-Silting the Main Watercourse

Bringing a 14-tonne excavator into a UNESCO World Heritage site requires a highly skilled, specialist contractor with the expertise to manoeuvre such large machinery in a confined space without damaging the fabric of this historically important location.  John, our regular groundworks contractor agreed to undertake the task of dredging and removing almost 30 years’ worth of silt from the watercourse, whilst avoiding damage to the ancient clay lining which prevents leaks from the ‘stop lock’.

Housing the new Turbine and Water Wheel

We were also able to recommend Tim Banks, our specialist concrete contractor, who agreed to undertake the complex and sensitive task of creating the upgraded, reinforced housing for the newly installed turbine.


Having removed tonnes of silt from the water course, OakenStone’s build team are currently undertaking the delicate task of excavating the ancient wheel pit, and the partial deconstruction and repair of the ancient pit wall to make room for the new turbine housing, all under the watchful eye of the county archaeologist and structural engineer.


OakenStone is very proud to contribute to such an important local project, which will generate not only limitless green electricity but also, greater public interest in this historic mill and surrounding area.  Visitors and school parties will be able to see the force of gravity, harnessed to generate power, close up.

On OakenStone’s role in the project, Simon Gill said, “I’m extremely grateful to Oakenstone for the care and expertise they’ve brought to the works, and I’m delighted with the quality of the stonework, especially in such hard to access areas.”

Looking Ahead

Over the past decade, OakenStone have been designing and constructing greener, ever more energy efficient homes that continue to offer homeowners enhanced levels of comfort, but with significantly lower energy demands.  Dave Mowle, our Operations Manager and Lead Designer last year completed the Passivhaus Designer Course so we can stay at the forefront of sustainable design and build techniques.  Our work at Cromford Mill chimes perfectly with that mission.

New building regulations (and energy price increases!) mean that if you are planning a new home, renovation, or extension, it will need to be as energy efficient as possible and OakenStone can help with that.  We are dedicated to creating beautiful homes that do not cost the earth.

Get in touch today to arrange a no obligation meeting.  We would be delighted to discuss your ideas and explore with you the possibilities and practicalities of your project.

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